ARYA DRILLERS
Guiness World Record Holder for "DRILLING THE HIGHEST BOREWELL IN THE WORLD"
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Dr Ritesh Arya started his carrier as a hydrogeologist in Himachal Government in 1993. At that time the entire water supply schemes for providing drinking water facility to the people were based on tapping surface water resources only. Groundwater data on mountain areas was negligible and Himalayas were considered to be devoid of substantial groundwater potential. Prior to his work the entire exercise to develop groundwater resources in the mountain state of Himachal was based on hit and trial method. Arya studied samples of more then 6000 borewells and classified the Himalayas into various Hydrostratigraphic zones (International Geological Congress, China, 1996).Later he prepared a model to explain occurrence and movement of groundwater resources in entire Himalayas (International Conference on Groundwater Solutions, Australia, 1997). This formed the basis of his future work. The first break to prove his hypothesis came in 1998 when Central Tibetan Administration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in collaboration with Water Aid a UK based NGO asked him to provide safe drinking water to the Tibetans, settled in Leh . The condition of drinking water supply was very poor. The only source of water for Tibetan settlement of 10000 dwellings was from water tankers. Situations deteriorated in winters when temperatures dropped to minus 30 degrees, even in summers the situation was very pathetic as silt from glacier melt rendered the distribution system non functional. Arya not only prepared a model report but also executed the project to provide safe drinking water to the people based on exploration and development of groundwater resources with 100% guarantee i.e. if no water is provided no money will be charged. In 2000 the entire Tibetan Settlement became the first community in the entire hill states of the Hindu Kush Himalayas to boost of getting safe drinking water 24 hours 365 days. Not only it changed the entire socio economy of the habitants of the cold mountain deserts of Ladakh but also worked as model to show that groundwater could provide safe drinking water to the entire region on economical and sustainable basis.

Having broken the notion of availability of groundwater in the headwater regions of the cold mountain deserts of Ladakh he worked in close collaboration with Defense Research and Development Organization to dream of using vast groundwater resources to usher green revolution in Ladakh.He advocated shift in agricultural practices from irrigating fields based on groundwater aquifers rather then surface water sources which were very erratic in their behavior. The model yielded results and Field Research Laboratory in Nubra Valley which was on the verge of closure recorded 50% increase in its production. Experiments with trench farming in winters also increased production because of the temperature advantage of +5ºC which groundwater enjoys over the surface water, which almost freezes in Shyok river.

Of the various projects undertaken by him the experience of providing drinking water to the troops stationed at the Siachen Glacier was most challenging as for the first time groundwater was explored to provide safe drinking water to the troops stationed in the highest battlefield of the world. Prior to this the habitants were forced to melt ice to quench their thirst. Now they have piped water even in winters when temperatures drop to minus 50ºC.

Of the various projects undertaken by him the experience of providing drinking water to the troops stationed at the Siachen Glacier was most challenging as for the first time groundwater was explored to provide safe drinking water to the troops stationed in the highest battlefield of the world. Prior to this the habitants were forced to melt ice to quench their thirst. Now they have piped water even in winters when temperatures drop to minus 50ºC.

However the main question was to know the potential and sustainability of the groundwater source in time and space. This was answered when a borewell drilled by him in 2001 to augument water supply scheme for Indian army yielded artesian condition at an altitude of 3500 meters above the mean sea level. In 2004 for this facet he became the first geologist to find place in Guinness World Records.

This  also showed that there is ample amount of groundwater available below the cold deserts and holds the key to check desertification due to global warming in the highland region and turn the cold mountain deserts green. (International Seminar Royal Geographical Society London,2005).

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